SH015 – The Different Types of Galaxies

In Episode SH015 of Star Hopping…

We’re presenting another Star Hopping “Extra”. This time, we’re presenting all the different types of galaxies, and how they might appear in your telescope. Within each type of galaxy, there are variations that could be confusing if you don’t know the characteristics of each.

We’ll set you straight so you will be able to tell which type of galaxy you’re looking at in your eyepiece. Check the episode to find out!


As I was reviewing the star charts in preparing for this episode, it became very clear that we needed to wait a bit for the stars to rise some more. There are many, many deep sky objects sitting either on the horizon or low in the sky around the 10:00 PM timeframe. In a fairly short period of time we will be very busy.

Wait for some Altitude

As I mentioned in the last episode, the great majority of the targets are galaxies, and to see them well, it is necessary to let them get to a reasonable altitude of about 30 degrees or more. This allows the faint light coming from these grand celestial structures to pass through a thinner section of our atmosphere. When deep sky objects are low, their light is diminished by the longer atmosphere, just as the sun dims and starts to appear orange and red as it sinks close to the horizon. When they are higher, they appear brighter and are easier to locate. When they are at or near the zenith, they are about as bright as they can get. Generally you should just be patient and wait for deep sky targets to rise a bit before hunting them down with your telescope.

So we’re going to postpone for a week before we start checking out all the new targets, in the constellations of lower Ursa Major, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, and finally Virgo.

So what do we do in the meantime? Let’s get acquainted with the different kinds of galaxies; and discuss all the different types of shapes that galaxies can take…

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